Thermally reversible self-healing polymers

Self-healing polymers are based on stimuli responsive, dynamically bonding functional groups that allow the material to undergo reversible debonding in response to a pre-selected trigger such as heat, light or pH. Thermally triggered materials are typically made from oligomeric linkers bearing functional end-groups capable of undergoing reactions that are both exothermic and exentropic; the competition between enthalpy and entropy favours bonding at low temperatures but debonding at higher temperatures. We are currently using theory to design thermally reversible Diels-Alder polymer systems which can undergo fast, catalyst-free, bonding / debonding reactions at tuneable temperatures. This entails designing appropriate reactive end-groups to tune the enthalpy and / or tailoring the polymer chain length and stiffness to tune the entropy contribution. We are working with experimentalists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the University of Dresden and Evonik Industries who are developing our computational designs into practical applications.

Recent Publications:

  • Guimard N.K., Ho J., Brandt J., Lin C.Y., Namazian M., Mueller J.O., Oehlenschlager K.K., Hilf S., Lederer A., Schmidt F.G., Coote M.L., & Barner-Kowollik C. (2013) Harnessing Entropy to Direct the Bonding/Debonding of Polymer Systems Based on Reversible Chemistry Chem. Sci., 4, pp. 2752-2759
  • Oehlenschlager, K.K., Guimard, N.K., Brandt, J., Mueller, J.O., Lin, C.Y., Hilf, S. Lederer, A., Coote, M.L. Schmidt, F.G. & Barner-Kowollik, C. (2013) Fast and Catalyst-Free Hetero-Diels-Alder Chemistry for on Demand Cyclable Bonding/Debonding Materials Polym. Chem.,4, pp. 4348-4355.
  • Oehlenschlaeger, K. K.; Mueller, J. O.; Brandt, J.; Hilf, S.; Lederer, A.; Wilhelm, M.; Graf, R.; Coote, M. L.; Schmidt, F. G.; & Barner-Kowollik, C. (2014) Adaptable Hetero Diels-Alder Networks for Fast Self-Healing under Mild Conditions Adv. Mater., 26, pp. 3561-3566.


This work, which is funded by Evonik Industries AG, is being carried out in collaboration with Professor Christopher Barner-Kowollik, Karlsruhe University of Technology, Professor Albena Lederer, Technische Universität Dresden and Dr. Friedrich Georg Schmidt, Evonik Industries AG, and their research groups.